Shugart’s article rendered that the media employ gay characters to legitimize and stabilize male heteronormative ideologies. On of the ways they successfully do this is through the common coupling of the straight female and the homosexual male.
This straight female, gay male pairing is depicted in the ever-expanding and popular series, The Real Housewives. In the Real Housewives of New York City, housewife Jill relies on the help and advice of “gay boyfriend,” Brad. The relationship that the two characters have is comedic as Brad assumes many of the roles that a traditional, heterosexual husband would minus the physical attraction. In calling Brad the “gay husband,” Jill reinforces Shugart’s claim that the homosexual, “function[s] as foils against which the leading men emerge as more traditionally masculine and, thus, more consistent with mainstream tropes of hetereosexuality. (72)”
Positioning Brad in this way not only strengthens the masculinity of all the other heterosexual male characters on the show, but also further downplays Brad’s expression of gayness. The fact that he is never pictured as coupled with another male and is only ever seen when next to Jill reveals a sense that his homosexual relationships are “lacking in comparison to the easy simpatico characterizing their primary relationships with [Jill]- these depictions render the male characters’ gay identities as ambiguous and potentially pliable. (76)” This again, renormalizes heterosexuality.